“It was a time of Legendary Learning, Notorious Networking & Happiness!”
That’s what I wrote as feedback after I had participated in the first Agritecture Vertical Farming workshop in New York, back in December 2014. Last week, one and a half years after the NY workshop, I returned to the 6th Agritecture workshop and two things were very different:
- I went there as a facilitator instead of as a participant
- For the first time it was organised outside of the USA
And irony made sure that it could not have been organised at a better time. The event came only into existence because of international collaboration, moreover the participants had come from all over the world (US, Lebanon, South-Korea, France, Belgium, Poland,…), yet the day the workshop started, Great Britain had just voted to leave the European Union.
Anyway, we didn’t let it get to our hearts, we were here to bring together many experts from different fields to design state of the art Vertical Farms.
Friday the 24th of June, 2pm
Even before the introduction talks had started, the participants had found their team mates and diligently started working on their designs. They were in such concentration that we had a lot of difficulties to get them to the first floor where the introductory presentations were held. Luckily, once they got there, we got their full attention.
Henry Gordon-Smith (Agritecture, Blue Planet Consulting & AVF) started off by talking about the concept of the workshops, what was expected of each of the teams and how their designs would be assessed. Mark Horler(Regrowth & AVF) moderated and gave the participants a brief introduction about what sustainability for Vertical Farms really means and me, Zjef Van Acker (AVF & Ghent Urban Farming), I gave a presentation on my favorite subject: Circular Vertical Farming and adding the productions of mushrooms and insects to the vertical farming operations (check out my other Blog-post on this subject).
After these introductory and inspirational sessions, Oscar Rodriguez(Agritecture & Food and AVF) got the teams down to business. He took the team on a virtual tour through the case study area (White Chapel), and quickly after, the teams had to hit the streets themselves to find the best spots to build their Vertical Farms. The sun was shining, everybody was happy and on the streets of London the teams really bonded.
After the exploration of the White Chapel neighborhood, we invited everyone to conclude the first day and have a drink at The Castle (the local pub). However, no chilling out happened there, each team quickly occupied a part of the pub and started discussing their projects. We, the workshop-organisers, loved this dedication and after a couple of beers and a little bit of help to the participants, we decided to leave them to their fun to go explore the city and witness an anti-Brexit demonstration.